On Your Side Alert: H&R Block troubles

On Your Side Alert: H&R Block troubles

(WWBT) - A married couple in their 90s thought they were doing the right thing when they went to a local tax preparer to file their returns, but it turned into a nightmare. "I've gone through this in my head so many times, so it's just very frustrating," said the couple's daughter-in-law Vonne Martin.

Last March, Martin and her husband took her elderly in-laws to a local H&R Block office to have their taxes done. They paid the $465 tax preparation fee and thought the elderly couple's taxes had been filed electronically in time for the April 15 deadline. The money owed for state and federal taxes was supposed to be automatically debited from the couple's account.

It wasn't until the following November that the family learned that had not happened. That was when the IRS contacted the couple notifying them that they had not filed their taxes. They called their daughter-in-law because they were confused, except she was confused too.

When she questioned H&R Block, she said company officials told her the filing was in a "COD" status, meaning the taxes had not been filed because the preparation fee had not been paid. "I said, 'Well, how could that be when I have copy of their check that was cashed April 17, 2015?' Their checking account shows the check went through," Martin said.

She said company officials couldn't really explain, except to say something must have fallen through the cracks.

Martin mailed the returns herself along with the taxes owed.

Then came another letter from the IRS saying the couple owed $3,500 in penalties and fees for filing late. She approached H&R Block about that and she said company officials told her to pay the penalties and then file a claim file with the company. "If the claim is approved, you'll receive an approval letter and a reimbursement check which he said will probably be what happens," Martin said.

After nearly two months and several phone calls, Martin said H&R Block officials told her they were not going to act on the claim and that she should file a form with the IRS. "To see if they will reduce the interest and penalites," Martin said.  "All of the time I've spent and not having any resolution."

That was when she reached out to the 12 On Your Side Investigators.

I called H&R Block's corporate office and explained the situation and that we planned to do a story. Within a day, the company reached out to Martin saying they planned to reimburse the penalties and interest the couple was charged.  A $3,500 check was in the family's hands four days later. H&R Block also reimbursed the tax preparation fee.

H&R Block's corporate office sent us a statement saying in part: "We take this seriously. We regret any inconvenience this created."

"If I make a mistake, I'll own up to it and do what I need to do to rectify it," Martin said. She heartened to see that's what the company finally did.

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